Pet Age recently spoke with Dave Merrell, founder of Healthy Hemp, to learn more about his brand and how its products play a role in the health and well-being of companion animals.
How has the pet hemp market changed over the years since you founded Healthy Hemp Pet in 2014?
When we first came out with our products, a lot of people thought we were getting animals “high.” Our biggest challenge was educating wholesalers of the benefits and effects of hemp so they could educate their customers.
The market has matured a lot since back then. Now it’s flooded with hemp (or CBD) pet products that greatly differ in quality. This has a lot to do with the extraction process and the quality of the key ingredient, the hemp oil from the plant – more on that later.
Why was it important for you to partner with Purdue University for a pharmacokinetic study in 2020?
Aside from the incredible pet recovery stories from our customers, there is still little published research on CBD and animal health. CBD pet products have been in the market for almost a decade; it’s time for further research to investigate how full spectrum hemp can improve the lives of our pets, especially the ones who are navigating complicated conditions such as cancer.
Purdue’s study investigated the pharmacokinetics (the movement of a substance through the body) of our coconut CannaDrops full spectrum hemp oil in dogs so they could pinpoint the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) before adverse effects occurred. Next, that MTD will be helpful with our prospective dog oncology trial with Purdue. We soon hope to understand whether CBD in dogs enhances or interferes with the activity of important anti-cancer therapies, and if CBD has anti-cancer activity.
What made you choose the extraction process that you currently use for your products?
The two main types of extraction processes are CO2 and ethanol. We use a third type, evaporative extraction. We are always looking for ways to improve our products. When I learned about the extraction process that Vapor Distilled uses, evaporative extraction, which is basically hot air, I visited their facilities. I was drawn to this new extraction process because it is chemical free and solvent free. After we had a sample tested and found that the extract retained much more of the natural terpenes, it was an easy decision to switch from the CO2 extraction method we had been using.
How do you describe the range of products in the Healthy Hemp lineup?
We wanted to have options for all animals, not just dogs, but also cats, birds and horses too. Because each pet’s needs and preferences can be so vastly different, our lineup has a variety of different application methods from hemp oils, sprays, baked supplements, crushed food toppers and topical balms. We also have immunity-boosting medicinal mushroom blends in several of the oils and crushes. Our customers found so much success with our pet products that they asked us to make human products too. Now, we have a Healthy Hemp People line of balm, oil and tea.
CannaNatural was our premiere pet product, which is a small baked good, with full spectrum hemp for anxiety, pain and inflammation. We’ve paired this with green-lipped mussels, which are good for joints and mobility. We’ve also made these available in a crushed version, with our CannaCrush for pets who might not be able to chew the crunchy CannaNatural bites. Our brand is to keep our ingredients all natural. For that reason, we don’t make a soft chew, because we have yet to find a way to make it without using preservatives.
What impact have your Airedale terriers, Che and Mya, had on your company?
My girl, Mya, was diagnosed with hip dysplasia at an early age. I started looking for alternatives to pharmaceuticals and heard about CBD. When I couldn’t find a company that listed the ingredients or amount of hemp mg in their product, I decided to make my own product for Mya. I took a while to find a hemp oil that I was comfortable with, but once I did, I hired a formulator to come up with a “clean” biscuit recipe using the hemp oil I found. After having three veterinarians review and tweak the recipe, I made a batch of biscuits for Mya and noticed a big improvement in her movement. Che is frightened of fireworks and thunder, so he gets his dose as needed.